On Nov. 6, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany will host a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "Requiem," featuring the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Albany Pro Musica.

The event is being hosted by Friends of the Cathedral, a new group that will boost ongoing restoration efforts at the historic Cathedral.

The concert will benefit those efforts as well as commemorate the recent completion of exterior renovations.

Major work

A performance in the Albany area of Verdi's "bombastic, exciting" opus is a fairly rare occurrence, said Glenn Osborne, the Cathedral's music director, because the piece requires "such great forces."

He noted that the "Requiem," a technically challenging piece, calls for a 73-piece orchestra and 160-member chorus.

Albany Pro Musica, conducted by David Griggs-Janower, presented the last performance of the work at the Cathedral six years ago, but without the Albany Symphony.

'Powerful'

David Alan Miller, conductor of the Albany Symphony, said that the piece "sounds like [Milton's] 'Paradise Lost' reads -- it's the most powerful, visceral religious utterance in the world. It is achingly, heart-wrenchingly beautiful. It is the combination of the sacred and quintessential Italian lyricism. I think it does what great sacred music is supposed to do: enhances the power of the [holy] text. It's one of the world's great masterpieces."

Two years ago, the Symphony's own gala was held at the Cathedral when the orchestra's home, the Palace Theater, was closed for rehabilitation.

"We're so excited to collaborate with the Cathedral on this," said Mr. Miller. "When we were looking for a place to hold the [Symphony concert], the only place we could think of that could accommodate all the people we wanted and was beautiful enough was the Cathedral. We had such a great time."

'Friends' launched

The gala is the first effort of Friends of the Cathedral, a group that Cathedral development director Thomas Prindle said will "assist the Bishop in efforts to support ongoing preservation, restoration and renewal of the Cathedral."

He hopes the group will become an organization that extends beyond the diocesan community, welcoming those who have an interest in preserving the Cathedral as a historic landmark and a symbol of Albany's heritage.

The organization "reaches out to a more inclusive community," Mr. Prindle said. "We say the Cathedral belongs to everyone -- and it does."

Mr. Osborne added: "It's going to be a wonderful event. It will bring a lot of people to the Cathedral. It's an opportunity for them to see the wonderful building we have, and it certainly increases awareness of the presence of the Catholic Church in the Capital District."

(Tickets are $50 for the concert and $150 for the concert plus a banquet reception afterwards at the Fort Orange Club in Albany. Benefactor packages, featuring extra tickets and other benefits, are also available. Black-tie is optional. All tickets include a seat cushion and a pewter Friends of the Cathedral medallion. For information, call 463-4447.)

(10/14/04)